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March 15, 2014

Fright Nights: Horrorant Film Festival, 2014 – Part 1: Thursday 13th & Friday 14th of March

I’m a film festival junkie. In the last 15 years I attended midnight screenings, small festivals, movie events and international film festivals in cities such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Berlin, Edinburgh, Cannes and London. When I found out about Horrorant Film Festival I almost had a heart attack.

I was surfing the internet when I came across Horrorant, and read that in its 1st year it will hold screenings both in Athens (13th to 19th of March) and Thessaloniki (20th to 26th of March). This is a pretty ambitious task for a Horror International Film Festival on its first year. This is the real deal.

Horrorant is very ambitious and is taking place in high-quality cinemas and will screen the films with great image and sound. Each feature will be accompanied by a short. We are talking about 19 features and 18 shorts. All of the films are Greek premieres and four of them are European premieres as well. Horrorant is the only European Film Festival happening in two major cities.

I will try to watch as many films as possible from Horrorant’s program and review them exclusively for Cinema Head Cheese. This is what happened in Greece’s 1st International Horror Film Festival on 13th & 14th of March. I’m going insane. Enjoy!

Wednesday 12th of March 2014
Dear diary, first things first: Horrorant will screen Seed 2: The New Breed (2014) and if I am not mistaken it is the festival program’s only sequel. I had to watch the original as part of my homework. I did watch Seed (2007), I liked it and I am now prepared. Isn’t director Uwe Boll, a prolific Ed Wood of our generation?

Thursday 13th of March 2014
Dear Cinema Head Cheese, may the horror begin.
I arrived really early at the Odeon Opera theatre because I was anxious to watch the goodies. Soon the festival organizer talked a little bit about the event and the quality of the copies that will be screened. And then I sat down comfortably and watched the first day’s movies.

Dentro Del Tunel (2012)
In a train which goes through a long tunnel, a kid plays a game: he keeps notes on how many people enter the cafeteria and how many get out. The problem is, the people who get in never return and the people who come out never went in there in the first place. This claustrophobic Spanish horror short directed by Sergio Roman takes place entirely on a train and it benefits from a solid screenplay and the creative use of lenses.

All Cheerleaders Die (2013)
In a high school, the woman-hating leader of the football team punches his girlfriend in the face. If that wasn’t enough he and his gang hunt her and her girlfriends on an impressive car chase scene which will result to the death of the girls.
The school’s Goth girl is a Wiccan witch and experiments with some magical stones. Her spell works and she brings the cheerleaders back from the dead. The girls now have super-powers too and they are ought to get revenge. It sounds a little bit like I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) but it is much better. Everybody is calling everybody a bitch, but you should focus on the interesting lesbian subtext.
All hell breaks loose in this excellent U.S. horror/comedy by directors Chris Sivertson and Lucky McKee. I have not seen the duo’s very successful May (2002), but I’m a big fan of Sick Girl, the 2006 episode McKee directed for the Masters of Horror TV series.

Caminando las Noches (2012)
In this Mexican horror short by writer/director Cristina Esquerra, Julián [Adrian Ladron] is a vampire who tries to develop normal relationships with human beings that are not un-dead. The screenplay is ideal really.

Be Careful (2013)
The festival’s first Greek film is about a Bates-like character that is forced to go on a killing spree. It starts as a psychological thriller but then it becomes really gory. The sound editing is problematic, but the visual effects are stunning. Also, watch out for the twist ending.

Friday 14th of March 2014
Day two was longer but equally enjoyable with the first, if not more. I want to watch movies until my eyes bleed! And even then I won’t want to stop.

Job Interview (2013)
A seemingly normal job interview ends up with horrors beyond imagination. This is another short film (from Germany this time) with an ideal for the format screenplay. Julia Walter directed a terrifying movie, complete with a twist ending.

Art of Darkness (2012)
The story concerns a married couple: He is a struggling accountant and she is a beautiful model. She goes at some seemingly nice guy’s house for a photo shoot, but in reality he is a lunatic who slaughters young females to create “works of art”. She calls her husband for help and he calls the police but soon things get even more complicated if you can believe that.
With exceptions such as Mum & Dad (2008), I don’t find modern British horror films to be particularly interesting. Well, this one (a feature directed by Steve Laurence) is not only interesting but also brilliant. It kicks off like a torture porn flick, but then evolves into a scary chase thriller with twists and more importantly depth.

Mas Katharise! (2014)
This Greek short film is about a bunch of people whose stories collide. It is a comedy that doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the program but it was entertaining nonetheless. Director Panos Iliakopoulos, and cast & crew attended for an introduction and a Q&A session.

Schism (2013)
A man is waking up from coma and tries to remember who he is and what he was doing before his brain’s blackout. He starts hanging out with a stripper and soon will discover that he was working for the mob in a white slavery ring (led by Vinnie Jones). You read right, hero with memory loss, but let me warn you: this is no Memento (2000). This is gory stuff with actual things happening on the screen.
Director Adam Gierasch’s (feature length) film noir had its European premiere at Horrorant. Now, when I say film noir, don’t think boredom in black and white, because this is modern ultra-violent stuff.

Sanctimony (2014)
This Greek short film is light on screenplay but heavy on special effects of every kind. Plus, it is a period piece with impressive costumes that may just be the thing that will get director Dimitris Vavatsis a feature film deal. Well done!

The day wrapped with the screening of Jeremy Gardner’s The Battery (2012). Remember kids if you are in Greece buy tickets and watch some great movies at Horrorant. Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 of Cinema Head Cheese’s coverage that’ll be online in the next days.

1 comment:

  1. It's a shame you didn't see The Battery on Friday. I was gobsmacked. I found it extremely interesting, articulate, with excellent dialogues, funny and witty. I had no idea what I was about to see and left the theater greatly satisfied by the film.